For a while now, we have been batting around theory, subjective experience,s and directed thinking. I read a lot of other people’s stuff. There are many things which I have picked up along the way and try to practice. The one main theme I encounter is that all workable and adoptable ways of living which denote a bit of enriching artful states of being, are inevitably based in simplicity. In that spirit, I will try to keep this post brief and succinct.
Things You Should Do Everyday
1. Spend at least one full minute standing completely still listening to your surroundings, feeling the sun on your skin, the wind through the trees, and the sound of your own breathing. I say to do this for one full minute- why? Because no one has time for anything these days. All this self-help pro-forma literature begs and pleads with you to make time for you. Easier said than done. But you do have one full minute. With daily practice, you will find the experience so delightful and fulfilling, you will expand it. So start somewhere tangible. Take that one minute for yourself.
2. Pay attention to the experience of drinking water, washing your hands, showering, or some other menial daily task. Set aside all your thoughts and fully feel the experience. Feel the water, it’s odd liquid texture, it’s tasteless refreshment, and the feeling of satiation. Be present to your bodies sensation, it’s movements- enjoy the feeling of your own body, even if for only a little while.
3. Eat Spartan, Sleep Spartan. Eat a plain diet in small portions. Notice what drives you to eat, when and why. When you crave something specific, draw it out as long as possible, then enjoy it, focusing only on the feeling of a satisfied craving. Forget all the fads and bullshit. Just shoot for a meat, a veggie, a fruit. Spruce it up with the occasional sweets. Don’t over think food. It is a natural process. Sleep between 4 and 6 hours a night. When you have some time off, clear your schedule, take a melatonin, turn off your alarm and silence your phone. Get at least on night a week of 9-12 hours of sleep.
4. Read everyday. Ritualized this practice. Do it either first thing, or last thing in your day. Have a couple books of fiction, and a couple of non-fiction going at one time. This way you can read in sync with what you are in the “mood” for. I keep fiction around because some days I want junk food after thinking all day. At other times I crave history, or scientific literature. Try out some new stuff you do not know if you will like. Read translated literature- Anything which will help you to explore literature.
5. Write at least once a week. The subject matter and the content are unimportant. It will evolve on it’s own in whatever direction your creativity wants to go.
6. Television is a total waste of time. There is no two ways about it. The greatest agent which has robbed the artistic, intellectual, and spiritual core from human beings is that fucking box. Get rid of it, use it only to watch sports, utilize Netflix. If you find yourself “channel surfing” get a hobby. Seriously. There is zero excuse for coming home, plopping in front of the box, wasting days, hours and weeks, looking at NOTHING. Turn off your TV- it is the single greatest thing you can do to improve your life. My personal feeling is that people that choose to engage in television have no right to complain about the condition of their lives. They just don’t, since they CHOOSE to waste several hours a day engaging in a task they know is wasteful. People that choose to watch TV everyday also have no right to complain there “isn’t enough hours in the day.” Again, you are choosing to be short on time by watching television. If social media is your bag, have FB running in the background, look up topics that interest you, share them with pals. DO NOT, just sit on a social media site hitting the like button like a monkey or stalking ex lovers like a creep. If you do need watch something on television, watch documentaries that interest you- you get the full “zombie” effect, but you learn something meaningful at the same time. That is a win-win after those long days when you want to spend an hour siting there staring at the television. The absolute worse state to be in is a time when you find yourself cruising social media, with a TV droning on in the background. This is depravity, and it is a trap.
Also on the topic of electronics, remember that answering your phone is optional after six. Do not bring work home if you can help it, do not let other people’s drama eat up your evening hours via cellphone either. Answer your phone and emails sparingly and only when you absolutely must. When your phone rings at nine pm, and you know who it is and what they want- see if it can wait until tomorrow. If you do answer, make it clear that this is your downtime and that you are not interested in talking for long.
9. Fashion your day around your hobbies. Instead of spending all your energy at work, trying to “make time” for your hobbies in the evening when you are exhausted, instead, approach your mornings with the idea that “Hey, after work, I get to do my thing.” This makes your workday merely an obstacle that stand between you and your productive and enlightening hobbies and activities. Work is what you do so that you can enjoy your hobbies. Work is the Means, and recreation and intellectual pursuits of interests are the Ends. Never confuse the two.
Relationships Made Easy
1. Does this person add to your DAILY life? No? Bye.
2. Do you look forward to seeing this person almost all the time? No? Bye.
3. Does this person have issues which are destructive that affect your life? Are they actively doing something to find solutions to these issues? No? Bye.
4. Do you wish you were with someone else almost everyday? Yes? Bye.
5. In general does the person put you in a positive mood or a negative mood? Negative? Bye.
6. Do you obsess about whether you “love” this person? or vice versa?- Bye.
7. Do you suspect any funny business? No evidence is needed. This is your life, not a court room. Bye.
8. Life is too short to settle, and it is too short for dreary lovers. We have made “compromise” such an operant word in today’s relationships that 90% of people settle. Never let loneliness drive you into a relationship which negatively affects your existence. You want someone that makes the art of being “you” even MORE “you”. Someone that makes it better, more enjoyable, and easier to be who you really are, and someone who loves you for that. Anything less is unacceptable. You should never have to defend who you are, or explain your inner workings to someone else’s satisfaction- especially an intimate partner. If you find you have to defend your personality from attack, then it is time to look elsewhere. If someone is focused on “changing” it is time to go. If you feel that so and so would be great if you could just get them to not do XYZ, then you need to look elsewhere and leave them in peace. This simple truth will free up so much emotional energy, you will know yourself better, and be a better more secure person for it.
Actions to Take
1. Resolve the most nagging issue you deal with right now. If you cannot find a solution right now, today; then formulate a plan for how you will do so in a specific and set time frame.
2. Be kind. Be generous. Hold doors, say thank you, ask people how their day is going and LISTEN to their response. Give money to homeless folks. Most generosity is very very small. Kindness is nothing more than stopping to acknowledge that you are not the only person on the planet. Easy mode.
3. Think regularly and at length about everything. Think about thinking. Notice how many of your thoughts are declarative statements. Change these statements to open ended questions. Formulate at least three questions for every challenge you need an answer to. Broadening your mind is not something for geniuses and academics. It is not magical, nor does it require excessive brain power. You want to stay out of automatic pilot in your personal life. Work, for example, is the time and place for that, because you get paid you focus on a task and follow through. But at home, sitting in your recliner, wondering how you are going to accomplish X, you need to take a looong step backwards. Think. Think about thinking. Your brain is the only thing that separates you from the stardust and animals. Cherish it, capitalize on it. and enjoy is.
4. Fear is the greatest obstacle in everyone’s life. It is a life governing agent which deters you from making empowered decisions, from exploring the world, from experiencing new things, from true love, and it is the main bar between you and true personal existential freedom.
Understanding the parsimony of life is key. Life is a complicated or as easy as you choose to make it. Poor decisions, emotionalism, mental health issue, depression, drug abuse etc etc- are all signs of a life that is far outside the boundaries of simplicity. The simplest answer is always invariably the correct one. If you feel like you are swimming upstream, you are, and it is time for a change and a reduction of outliers and distraction. If it is people that hold you back, then shed those people from your life, if poverty or illness are restrictive, then be pro-active about getting over these situations, and if your past, or your fears hold you back, then simply walk through it, If sentimentality or misplaced loyalties hold you in check- get honest with those factors.
With simplicity, you cannot fail at life. You can only over-complicate. In this day and age when our merit is weighed under the banners of “success” and “failure”- simplicity and an understanding of your place in the world can offer a long sought purity and cleanliness which exudes effectiveness, authentic actions, and positive, reaffirming directed thoughts, ideas, and emotions.